Global Data Privacy Insight from 4 International Email Experts

Brent Sleeper
Jan. 13, 2016 by Brent Sleeper

One of the cool things I was reminded of at Insight, SparkPost’s annual user conference, is just how diverse the community of email pros really is.

One way that diversity is reflected is in the simple fact that email is a global medium. That globalization is remarkable, but it introduces its own set of challenges: understanding the needs of different markets, deciphering the code of international deliverability, and navigating the legal and regulatory frameworks that govern different jurisdictions.

privacy-hairball

We recently shared several best practices for sending email outside of North America in a webinar about international email marketing, but the shifting landscape of global email and data privacy regulations is complicated enough to warrant some extra attention. Lucky for us, an expert panel at Insight 2015 shared updates on several significant international email marketing and data privacy rules in Canada, the European Union, Australia, and Russia. Here are some of the highlights.

First off the blocks was Matthew Vernhout of Inbox Marketer, and an expert on Canadian anti-spam laws (CASL). He highlighted several dramatic enforcements of CASL violations, as well as changes to Canada’s Digital Privacy Act. As Matthew pointed out, CASL enforcements are becoming a significant issue in light of a recent, record CAD 30 million fine against the Avis Budget Group for what was judged to be misleading advertising in an email marketing campaign. One facet of the enforcements worth noting is that the Canadian authorities have been making a distinction between willful violations that warrant substantial administrative monetary penalties (AMP) and the inadvertent violations that fall instead under the lesser category of undertakings.

Next, Dennis Dayman of Return Path discussed the implications of a recent court decision invalidating the long-standing “safe harbor” provisions that govern data collected on European citizens, but stored in U.S. data centers. Although Dennis suggested that the sky may not be falling quite yet, he also was very up-front that the the full impact of this ruling remains to be seen, as it has the potential to upend current practices by many American Internet companies who operate in Europe.

James Koons of dotmailer reviewed the sometimes confusing state of affairs in Russia. Russian Federal Law 242 quite explicitly requires all data collected on citizens of the Russian Federation to be stored on servers within the country’s territory. However, James also noted that current penalties described by the law are so small in monetary terms as to suggest that some businesses may be tempted perform a cost-benefit analysis of compliance and fines. Additionally, he noted that there is some ambiguity about the regulations affecting extraterritorial data transfers, because Russia is a signatory to relevant European regulations that do allow transfer of data, as long as certain conditions are met.

Finally, Dean Maidment of Taguchi Digital Marketing covered updates to Australia’s wide-ranging privacy principles. The long and short of these regulations is that Australian citizens now have a far-reaching right to demand a copy of all data that makes an individual “reasonably identifiable,” and the Australian framework may well be interpreted very broadly. His advice to companies doing business in Australia is to be highly proactive about preparing for enforcement of this regulation—and to be ready for even more sweeping interpretations in the future.

With these ongoing changes to privacy and anti-spam laws around the world, it’s clear international email marketing requires careful planning before clicking the send button. The overview from these experts about key regulations that affect email and data collection programs is a great starting point for getting up to speed.

To learn more, be sure to check out our helpful webinars on international email marketing and CASL. And our friends at the Email Experience Council (EEC) have provided detail on several of these global regulations.

What else would you like to learn about topics like CASL and safe harbor? I’d love to hear from you!

—Brent
@brentsleeper

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